UK Copyright Industry Wants to Use Pop-Ups to Stop File-Sharing

Using the strikingly flawed logic that everyone connecting to a file-sharing network is automatically a copyright infringer, the UK copyright industry wants the government to force ISPs to use pop-up windows to inform users that they are accessing a website that presumably has unauthorized content.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

One may call it a new weapon against file-sharers who are savvy enough to use a file-sharing website, but not savvy enough to install a pop-up killer (now pre-bundled in many web browsers) or anti-adware software to stop the ads – whoever they are. A report from The Guardian talks about this more recent push by the copyright industry that resides in the UK to toughen up copyright laws. From the report:

The UK film and television industry is calling on the government to introduce online “speed humps” that would slow down or restrict the broadband access of people who illegally share copyrighted material, and slap pop-up warnings on websites to stem the rising tide of internet piracy.

Rising tide indeed if the copyright industry statistics are to be believable (Canadians are probably even less likely now). The report now suggests that there are 6 million file-sharers in the UK engaged in file-sharing – a completely different number to that of the last guess of 1.3 Million on one network.

Additionally, this is suppose to be one of the tools the copyright industry would have – effectively getting ISPs to do their dirty work in the process – to supposedly eliminate piracy by 70% – 80%. That 70% – 80% targeted reduction is certainly in-line with last years leaked letter where the British government vowed to reduce file-sharing by 80%.

The idea behind getting ISPs to bring pop-ups to users who access file-sharing sites? From the Guardian:

“Making life difficult for people who persist in accessing and copying protected material, while not preventing them from shopping online, browsing, banking online or using the internet for other legitimate purposes, is surely preferable to court actions, except in the most flagrant cases of abuse,” said Lavinia Carey, chair of Respect For Film, a lobby group backed by the British Video Association, the Federation Against Copyright Theft, and studios including NBC Universal and Warner Bros.

“We see the use of technological measures as similar to creating road humps — they will make potential copyright infringers pause and think twice.”

Last year, British ISPs signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that said that ISPs agree that they need to take measures to fight online piracy. While UK ISPs did sign the MoU, they still expressed reluctance to disconnecting alleged copyright infringers.

Still, this latest demand seems to follow along a theme that was seen last year when Virgin Media sent out 800 warning letter to its customers – some of which have never used file-sharing clients before – in an effort to scare people away from file-sharing. These so-called “speed bumps” for file-sharing that is currently being pushed for by the UK copyright industry very likely won’t do a thing other than install nuisance-ware on the ISP level. After all, how hard could it be to block pop-up ads from ISPs anyway?

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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